Pruning Tomato Plants

Tips for pruning tomato plants. Do tomatoes really need pruning?  What will happen if you leave them to grow as they please? When to prune tomato suckers. Tomato plant care, staking and crop management.

Pruning tomatoes is an important aspect of tomato plant care. Pruning keeps tomato plants healthier and allows you to stake or trellis them more easily.

How to Prune Tomato Plants

Pruning tomato plants is not like pruning shrubs. You won't be making heading or thinning cuts. What you will be doing is pruning suckers off of tomatoes.

Let each plant produce two main leaders or upright growing stems. As the tomato seedling grows it will form a Y. Each branch of the Y are your main leaders.

Tomato plant with the sucker growing in the leaf axil circled in white.

Tomato suckers will form in the leaf axils.

Pinch these off, but let the 2 main branches of the Y continue to grow.

Do this gently with your fingers.

Go over the whole plant and make sure you get them all.

Repeat this exercise every 10 days throughout the growing season.

This directs the tomato's growing power into the main leaders and into fruit production.

Tomato Plant Care

Tomato plant trimming should only be undertaken during dry weather. By working in a wet tomato garden, you could spread diseases like wilt or blight from plant to plant.

Only indeterminate tomatoes require pruning and staking. Bush tomatoes will only grow to a height of about 3 feet and can be left to grow as they like.

Indeterminate tomatoes (sometimes called staking tomatoes) will continue growing until stopped by frost. This growth must be managed or the vines will become a sprawling mess. The beauty of the tomato planting, and much of the crop, will be lost.

Pruning Tomatoes in the Fall

By now, you've been pruning tomato plants all season, and your efforts have been rewarded with huge crops of great tomatoes. In fact, there are lots of green tomatoes on the vines right now. How do you make sure they ripen before winter?

About a month before you expect the first frost to occur, pinch out the tips of the main leaders of each tomato plant. This will stop vegetative growth and direct the plant's energy into ripening that last crop of delicious, home grown tomatoes.

For More Tomato Growing Tips, Mosey This Way:

My Topsy Turvy Review

Growing Tomatoes In Pots: Which Varieties Will Work

Planting Tomatoes in the Ground or in Buckets

The 5 Best Heritage Tomatoes

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